toxic backlinks

How to avoid toxic backlinks as a doctor

In this article, we will discuss the risk of toxic backlinks or poorly executed medical SEO. Not only could you be wasting your marketing budget, but you could also be damaging your online reputation without knowing it.

marketing agencies for doctors

How to avoid toxic backlinks as a doctor

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

February 8, 2023

The quick fix: flagging toxic links with Google

get rid of toxic backlinks

The simple way to ‘get rid of toxic backlinks’ is to tell Google that you don’t want them.
That’s an almost oversimplified summary of the whole topic and it is worth sticking around to get a deeper understanding of what is actually happening here.

That’s why I wanted to first explain what backlinks are, why there is such a thing as toxic backlinks in the first place, what healthy backlinks look like and how to get a grip on this situation or at least self-diagnose your medical website so you are fully aware of what might be affecting your practice growth.

The underlying causes of toxic SEO

SEO pitfalls to avoid

The biggest SEO pitfalls to avoid are:

  • People who pretend they do your SEO but who do nothing
  • People who do SEO to the standards that applied 15 years ago
  • People who overwhelm you with information you don’t understand

Spot the common thread: people.


Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Toxic SEO came into existence because the digital space is attractive for many people to make money easily. Here at Digital Practice we imported our values from our previous roles in journalism and start with an ethical take on content. Google is artificially-intelligent enough to now see through all the scams and attempts to deceive Google Search."

The underlying cause is easy profit with poor services and the solution is to gain a basic understanding of what is involved in getting good Google visibility.

Our series of articles on medical SEO for doctors in private practice, is right here in our Grow! magazine, are a great starting point even if we say so ourselves.

The importance of backlinks in medical SEO

SEO done well

SEO done well means that you only use backlinks that are healthy. So let me summarise this: It’s is still worth considering if you can obtain quality backlinks in a healthy non-toxic way. But it can never be the only marketing activity you run online.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-Founder Digital Practice

"If you are paying someone for monthly SEO work and there is nothing happening on your website, chances are the focus is on backlinks. If that is the case, check how these external links are being generated."

A non-exhaustive list of great external backlinks would be:

  • A link from a local media outlet, linking to a specific page on your website
  • A link from a medical forum that discusses your particular specialty area
  • A link from a college or medical professional association operating in your niche area
  • A link from an influencer’s blog, related to your niche or closely linked to your catchment area

If you want to check whether your SEO is done well, ask where the backlinks are coming from, visit the pages and check if they are one of the above. If they look like they are just farms full of backlinks, run.

Or to translate that to a more professional recommendation: read the terms of your current agreement with this SEO provider and have an obligation-free conversation with us to learn more about content marketing in 2023.

toxic backlinks

The things SEO agencies will never tell you

SEO agencies for medical

The tension in digital work is nothing to get too dramatic about but this is the right place to unpack it for you. Running your own small to medium-sized business as a doctor, you will understand this.

Digital work is – by definition – remote, working-from-home impregnated and global. English is one of the world’s most widely accepted second languages. As a result, digital work is being subcontracted and sub-sub-subcontracted at massive scales.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-Founder Digital Practice

"SEO agencies for medical can not afford to simply farm out the work to poorly trained digital workers overseas because it requires knowledge of local Australian AHPRA compliance, local patient search behaviour patterns and the Australian health system."

The other thing SEO agencies will never tell you is that it all starts with the way your content is organised on your website. Redoing that is always a more costly exercise than ‘doing a bit of SEO’ and it may be a less pleasant conversation. Until you find out that you could be doubling or tripling your practice turnover or waitlist and get a different ROI than what you are currently getting from your medical marketing campaigns.

The true place of backlinks in your medical SEO strategy

backlinks and SEO

The true place of backlinks and SEO?

From our dozens of live strategies around Australia, the conclusion is obvious. Quality external links still help, but they are not something you can really influence unless you trigger broadcast or print media coverage.

That is why they should not be the focus of your SEO work.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-Founder Digital Practice

"True SEO work means you assess what your patients and referrers are googling for. You build content based on the topics you want to rank for. You do it again and again, measuring what is changing and how you can optimise your online presence more, month after month, quarter after quarter."

We can help you get an overview, focus on the foundations of your online visibility, and create predictable growth for your clinic or private practice.

Let's meet

Let’s meet and discuss

toxic backlinks

Toxic backlinks are something to look out for. And yet, the easier conversation is about your actual content on the website, its optimisation and visibility, and how we can help you rank better, create more traffic, enjoy more conversions and generate more referrals. I look forward to meeting you.

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